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Old 05-03-2012, 09:06 AM   #1
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Default Parents and Food

I was just reading through some posts about people and their serious issues with food: extreme pickiness/overeating/binging/disordered eating, etc. I'd guess a lot of us on here have emotional/psychological problems with food to some degree (I know I do!). So, here's the question: do you feel like your parents' attitudes toward food shaped your food issues? If so, what was it you think they did/didn't do that made things like that? Not to blame parents, I am an adult and I take responsibility for my life and weight, but I do think childhood can shape early impressions and attitudes of things and that can be hard to shake. Maybe by talking about them here, we can heal.

I'll start: When I was 11, I was going through puberty and had pudged out a little (not to a huge size, but I had gone from stick-skinny to a little bigger). One day I kept catching my mom writing something down, and I finally got her to admit to me that my dad thought I had gotten too fat because I was eating too much junk food and had asked her to write down everything I ate so he could monitor my diet. First, he shouldn't have done this. Second, she should NOT have told me.

I also remember my dad saying things at dinner when my brother and I didn't finish our plates, like, "That chicken died for you, and now you're not even going to eat it. What a waste." That did not help anything!!

I had developed a mild eating disorder by the end of jr. high (not eating at all during the day, eating very little at night) and when I asked my mom why she never did anything about it a few years later, she told me that it was because I could have stood to lose some weight (When I started deciding to lose weight, I was 5'7" and 140 lbs).
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Old 05-03-2012, 09:52 AM   #2
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This is a great idea, here is my story:

Throughout my childhood food was a cure all. Anytime I was upset, angry, or being rewarded pizza and ice cream were shoved into my hands. I quickly learned that it is better to eat your emotions than shamefully express them through crying.

My mother never, never, never (and still doesn't) bought fresh food. All veggies are canned, not even frozen veggies were in the house. Fruit could only rarely be found and only in the form of fruit cups. We did have fresh meat. All lunches were either cheap cold cuts with Kraft singles on white bread, chef boyardee, or lunchables. Snacks were chewy fruit snacks, chips, little Debbie cakes or various other processed junk. We never drank water, only soda and KoolAid.

Despite this terrible diet, I was a normal weight until the age of 8. Slowly I got bigger and bigger. The doctors told my mother that I needed to be supervised when eating...all the supervision in the world couldn't make up for the processed food. I played outside at any chance I had, I loved it! We had a pool and I was almost always swimming in the summer. Still the doctors said I needed an exercise plan at the age of 9.

At 12, doctors decided I had PCOS based on nothing more than heavy periods (though they were regular) and slightly elevated blood glucose. My mom, not one to argue with a doctor, allowed me to start glucophage. Still I gained weight. At 16 they did an ultra sound to check for cysts. I had beautiful, healthy ovaries no fibroids, no cysts. Still the endocrinologist looked at me and said "you'll probably never be able to conceive". I got bigger and bigger, stopped taking medication and stopped going to the doctor.

Last September, at the age of 22, I was informed that I was healthy as a horse, but my thyroid was slow. The pediatrician and endocrinologist never tested for that...in all those years, I was never tested because no one ever advocated for me.

I had an ultra sound done to quiet my fears and have been assured by two doctors that with a regular period, tracked ovulation, and healthy ovaries, I have nothing to worry about with conception!

My parents poor habits resulted in developing my tastes and behaviors in a great way. I advocate for myself at the doctor, along lots of questions and doing my own research. I see fresh fruit and veggies as daily treats because that is what they were growing up (though not daily in childhood). The only thing I struggle with still is binging when I'm angry or upset.
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Old 05-03-2012, 09:59 AM   #3
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My father is like that too. I like to call it a Great Depression food attitude. Even now I have trouble not cleaning my plate, past hunger.
Nobody in my family is an emotional eater/binger. I never fit in with them anyways, and living with them was miserable-I couldn't escape, we grew up in a 1 bedroom apt. I would try to find ways to hide-waking up in the wee hours just to have some alone time-usually by the kitchen, binging.
As I grew up, the overeating was my way to escape, a way to find some quiet time away from stress.
I grew up with a lot of conflicting food attitudes. My mother was from a more high class, very "LA" style family so to that side of the fam, I was horribly fat and they never quit reminding me. But everyone also wanted m me to eat-it was like they were in denial that I couldn't scarf down food and lose weight at the same time. Who knows why. Both grandmothers on my side were just so disappointed in my size. Felt not so great because I have a "pretty face" so I felt so mismatched. Looks were and still are very important to them, and me too actually.
I have an older sister who might have her own issues and she always comments on my weight, like I "look anerexic" or whatever...and I was 140 lbs and 5'3''. I have to talk to her about that, and I don't know if that will change anything, but I know for one thing, I won't let it affect what I eat.
I think that I am naturally not a confrontational person, and combined with the environment I grew up in, I just always wanted to please people. It didn't make me more or less popular, the same people who disliked me still disliked me. I am learning to be my own person more, because I don't think its healthy to hate myself if someone is rude or something-maybe its them and not me. We all have our own complicated lives, and I can't even trace the source of all my emotions. Its a slow process.
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Old 05-03-2012, 10:18 AM   #4
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Here's my story:

My father died when I was 5 years old, (20 year anniversary was May 1st!{I'm now 25}) my mother worked fulltime and was busy running around with me and my sister, be it getting us to school on time, picking us up, dropping off, etc, etc. Like an above poster, we were raised on processed food because it was easy and being so busy my mother seldom cooked, although she did her very best.

Mcdonald's, hot pockets at the bus stop in the morning, and any type of pasta dish was pretty common back then because they were quick and easy meals. I was very slim as a little girl but around 10 I started to get chunky. My mother has always had issues surrounding food, and admitted this past weekend on a roadtrip to see my sister, that she can control what she eats, but not her other addictions, drinking and smoking.

She has always been slim, and as my sister and I got older (and bigger) she didn't like the fact that we didn't "match". My mother being blonde, blue eyed, and thin, and her monstrous little chubkin's (lol). I remember her making us follow some beet diet with her, and weighing us, she even offered us each $100 if we lost 20lbs!

Needless to say, I liked food, it made me feel good and I think my mother being so restrictive made me want to eat when I could eat, as in not around her. My sister had even started hiding food under her bed.

I feel as an adult I have a much better outlook on food. I used to have binge issues, which I believe contributed to my weight gain. I think my mother gave me the idea that the less you eat the less you weigh, and for a long time I thought that was true. Now I'm enjoying eating healthy and feel as though my relationship with food is better than ever!
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Old 05-03-2012, 10:20 AM   #5
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My parents were divorced and i used to spend my weekend at my dad's where he'd tell me i was fat and should go on boiled egg diet. id come home crying and to cheer me up, my mum would take me out for a nice meal/ice cream/burger etc. I always thought of myself as a fat kid and avoided my childhood photos. then when i was moving house, i came across a photo of me when I was 12 and i was definitely not fat. i wasnt thin but I wasnt fat or overweight. Just tall and normal. I felt so sad. Anyway the habit has stayed. Everytime i feel bad, i get the urge to eat and I always see myself as fat even when I lose weight. Youd think being aware of this makes me address it but it doesnt.
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Old 05-03-2012, 03:41 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mascara blue View Post
My parents were divorced and i used to spend my weekend at my dad's where he'd tell me i was fat and should go on boiled egg diet. id come home crying and to cheer me up, my mum would take me out for a nice meal/ice cream/burger etc. I always thought of myself as a fat kid and avoided my childhood photos. then when i was moving house, i came across a photo of me when I was 12 and i was definitely not fat. i wasnt thin but I wasnt fat or overweight. Just tall and normal. I felt so sad. Anyway the habit has stayed. Everytime i feel bad, i get the urge to eat and I always see myself as fat even when I lose weight. Youd think being aware of this makes me address it but it doesnt.
I know what you mean-I once lost a good amt of weight (my current UGW now) and then I started gaining some, and when that happened my mother pulled me aside and said "I am telling you this because your friends won't but because I am your mother I will tell you the truth. You aren't as pretty anymore because you got fatter." I avoided mirrors and the weight skyrocketed. Tried to tell my sister, but she had her own issues and dismissed me. I want to talk to a therapist just to vocally express my feelings because I blocked those moments out.
What does help is that I tell myself that Yes that was a hard time in my life, and no I should not have been treated that way. Acknowledging that it was something bad that someone did, makes me feel better as I have a tendency to blame myself.
It makes me a lot more intuitive on how people are really feeling, like fake smiles hiding a lot of misery. I was picked on as a kid (non weight related) and now its easier for me to tell more hidden signs. I am not sure if I would have been so good at observing and listening to people if I didn't go through all these things.
EDIT-It doesn't make me feel happy, but it does make me feel a lot less frusterated and miserable. Just like getting picked on in the past-I don't feel great looking back, but I don't feel wretched because I wasn't the one acting out of malice-it spoke more about the person being mean.
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Old 05-03-2012, 06:32 PM   #7
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Well, my story isn't that special; I got really sick the summer I turned 12, I was in the hospital for a week and lost a couple of pounds (I was already thin at that time). When I finally got better and returned home, my mom was so happy, she started cooking everything I loved, if I wanted ice cream at 10 PM, she would allow it, if I wanted pizza for breakfast, she would be happy to order some. I know she was just glad I was healthy again, but somehow that behavior changed my attitude towards food. Up until then, I was only eating when I was hungry, but afterwards, I actually started to enjoy food a lot more than I should have and eating just for the pleasure of it. I'm still trying to rid myself of that habit.
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Old 05-03-2012, 06:44 PM   #8
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I come from a family (immediate and extended) that celebrates everything with food...we all like to eat, but really, no one brought about my food issues (and I have definite food issues). My mom for the most part was a SAHM, she cooked dinner every night. No packaged food, made everything, even if it was a meat and potato heavy dinner. I actually never even tasted instant potatoes until I was in high school. We ate moderately healthy stuff. The two things that were a bit of an issue, ones that my mom still feels the need to apologize for are until her mid-30s, my mom didn't have a weight issue. She could eat junk and not gain, it never really occurred to her that it was unusual so treats were usually junk. Often homemade junk, but still high sugar/fat/calorie junk. The second thing was in my mom's mid-30s, she developed nearly debilitating migraines, several a month, often lasting for nearly a week that would keep her hidden in dark rooms in agony or the ER. We started relying on a lot of fast food, which once it became a habit, it took me until my late 20's to break.
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Old 05-03-2012, 08:17 PM   #9
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I remember talking with my mom when I was in my early teens about how I should be eating less but it was hard because I felt like I was always hungry. She replied "Well, that's probably my fault, I always liked chubby babies so I overfed you" Wow, thanks Mom! After that I always wondered if somehow that triggered bad food habits in my life. I have no idea if that's what led to my being overweight but a part of me was really mad at her for that. I'm older now (not mad anymore) and I'm working on reversing those bad habits. It's not easy (as many of you well know) but I'm getting there.
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Old 05-03-2012, 09:03 PM   #10
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my family DEFINITELY had a lot to do with my eating habits, both the healthy and unhealthy parts. the negative stuff i have already posted about, but the positive things they taught me include:

LOVING veggies. my grandma had a veggie garden in her yard when i was growing up and i loved to go pick fresh peas and eat them straight from their pod. i still eat lots of veggies with every meal

NO GREASE! my family cooks their meat with a bit of water in the pan... to steam it i guess. i have picked up on this habit and rarely use any grease or oil

EAT AT HOME! i didnt have my first fast food meal until i turned 14 years old. and then i was allowed to get an arbys deli fresh sandwich. my family never really ate fast food, and although i eat waaay too much, it is very rarely anything other than home made goodies

there are more, but i thought that putting some of the positive things they taught me would be interesting.
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Old 05-03-2012, 09:35 PM   #11
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Mom taught me to sneak junk food. She'd pick out something special for us to share when we went to the store, and after we'd gotten home and put the groceries away, we'd indulge on whatever the treat was and she'd emphasize that we needed to hide the container/wrapper it came in so Dad wouldn't know about it. And then of course, she'd get angry if she found containers/wrappers hidden in my room because it was wrong and unhealthy to sneak food!

Yeah, that sounds healthy, doesn't it? I grew up with the impression that indulging on treats was exciting, but since it was also "wrong," it had to be done in secrecy. That caused me a lot of problems growing up, and I imagine it was more responsible for the weight I'd gained as a teenager (and have still never entirely shed) than the steroids that Mom had blamed it on (the steroids were prescribed when I was first diagnosed with asthma).

Whenever I have kids, I hope I can pass my newly-found healthy attitude onto them.
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Old 05-04-2012, 12:17 AM   #12
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My parents' attitudes and actions shaped my "food issues". They kept a lot of processed crap in the house, sent me to school with Lunchables and those non-juice juice drinks, allowed us to drink soda at lunch and dinner every day, and treated going out to eat as both an indulgence worth a caloric splurge and a normal reward for making to the end of the week. My mom likes bland food and doesn't like cooking, and couldn't be bothered to actually cook balanced, interesting meals - she prepared the same few carb- and fat-heavy, nutrient rich plant material light, boring, near-tasteless dishes every week for years. My dad didn't do anything about it. And there were always desserts on hand - rarely fruit-based, usually cookies, brownies, or ice cream. And, even though my mom's day started later than the rest of ours and she got home hours before the rest of us and we called an hour before we started home, she couldn't usually be bothered to get up off her *** and start preparing dinner so it would be ready or close to ready when we got home - at 7 or 8 at night, usually (we left home around 6:30am). We were pretty damn hungry by that time. In that sort of environment, coupled with the other stuff I had going on, is it any wonder I tried to stock up on as much of the tastiest (and, as it happened, the carbiest and fattiest) foods available to me? They also didn't teach me what appropriate portion sizes were and kept the serving bowls on the table. We were usually allowed to have as much as we wanted.

My parents did a good in a lot of ways, but imparting healthy eating habits was not one of them. I've had to learn most of this stuff on my own (which is relatively easy) and make healthy eating practices a habit (which has been pretty hard). I find it mind-boggling that two well-educated people who were at healthy weights as youths themselves (they've got a middle aged spread thing going on now) didn't recognize that their young child had a weight problem that wasn't going away on its own, that was getting worse over time, and that MAYBE they should take some responsibility for fixing. But no, suddenly I'm in my late teens and over 200 lbs., and I'm getting yelled at for displaying the horrible food habits they instilled in me, not being active enough (they discouraged me from playing sports as a child), and being berated for making poor nutritional decisions because they'd never taught me otherwise or demonstrated what a healthy, balanced diet looks like. My dad asked me what my ideal goal weight was recently, and when I told him, he said (in a voice that indicated doubt and a lack of confidence in me) that I would be...thin at that weight. Yeah Dad, I will be. They gave up on me 20 years ago, and they gave up without a fight. It makes me extremely angry if I think about stuff like this too much.
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Old 05-04-2012, 01:26 AM   #13
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Great thread!

I feel I actually have a good healthy attitude towards food BUT I do have grievances with how my parents fed me as a child.
I feel angry and resentful about it because study after study shows that how you ate in your youth has long term health consequences...even if you completely change as an adult.
But I also feel guilty for feeling resentful because my mom was on her own most of the time working more than full time and she had constant severe migraines. She doesn't like cooking...and chooses to be ignorant about nutrition. So in some ways it wasn't her fault but in some ways it was.

Anyway, we had fast food a few times a week MINIMUM. We ONLY ate processed foods...we RARELY had fruit and vegetables...and when we did have vegetables they were smothered in something unhealthy. For years, I only drank high sugar juice and nothing else as a youth. This wore away my enamel and my front teeth are basically transparent. That really bothers me.

For a snack my mom would BUTTER WHITE CRACKERS!!!! I used to eat that alll the time! Pretty much every unhealthy thing you can think of is what we ate on a regular basis. After every swim lesson my mom would give me a full size snickers bar even as a very young child.

OH AND HERE'S THE KICKER!!!!!! I strongly remember constantly asking for Fruit Loops and Kool-aid at the grocery store. My mom NEVER once bought kool-aid because she said it was "too unhealthy" UM BUT KFC AND MCDONALDS EVERYDAY IS FINE??!?!?!

I'm still shaking my head over that one. I do not know what was going on in her mind.

I just hope I can undo the damage all that sugar and trans-fat did to me. And I will never do the same to my children.
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Old 05-04-2012, 03:51 AM   #14
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This is a great thread. it is nice to see how all of our eating habits have developed over the years, and what started us on this path.

My story is similar in aspects to the others. My Mother and Grandmother to this day still both have eating disorders, so I learned at an early ago what I thought was a ¨normal¨way to eat. My mother is an anorexic binger. She generally eats once a day in the afternoon, and it is usually a handful or patatoe chips or french fries and a beer. Nothing else. She cooked for us everyday growning up a healthy combo of foods but never ate with us, just sat there, still to this day it´s like that. My Grandmother eats once every 2 or 3 days but when she does man oh man is it a binge. She will eat 1 box of cereal with a gallon of milk, or 5 bags of popcorn, or 12 loaded tacos. No joke. My Mother has maintained about 120lbs all my life. My grandma used to be about 175, but these days is more like 160.

I started to be chubby about 6 years old spending the summers with my grandparents. My Dad was so mad and would yell every summer that I wasnt going back, because all they did was feed me and make me fat. I wasnt allowed to have seconds at dinner, and they would always tell me to eat fruit, when others ate junk. I wasnt really allowed to drink water, I know it sounds silly, but with 7 kids, it´s been the same. We could only drink milk or juice and I think the calories hurt too. My mom packed our lunch for school everyday. A normal PB&J, chips, fruit, cookies and juice box. And breakfast on the weekends was always elaborate.

When I was a teen I started binging, and extreme dieting. I finished high school and was 135. By the time I was 20 I was 180 and have yo-yo´d from 180-145 ever since.
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Old 05-06-2012, 07:32 AM   #15
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This post got me thinking and made me realize we had good eating habits at home. My mom didn't like to cook so we'd often have pre-packaged food but she would always serve with a huge bunch of veggies. For dessert, we would have yogurt and stuff and its only in high school, when we saw our friends with cakes and poptarts, etc. that we wanted to include that in our lunches and my parents agreed...not good! ;-)

What I can see now that I didn't see before is the way my father now deals with food. He has a sweet tooth (strong!!) and he feels bad about it so he tries to have others have a super sweet dessert with him (to make him feel less guilty). I am able to say no...my 10 year old son is not, I have to interfere and to ask my father to stop. For my father, a treat has to be sugar, be it candy or cake...so for every occasion, he gets my son chocolate, ice cream, etc. Even though I told him not to...he kept bringing candies, etc. We had a huge discussion and I think he now gets it. I told him that what he brings...I put in garbage :-) He changed candies for books, bike ride, movies and believe me, my son enjoys even more, he gets to spend quality time with his grand-dad!
(please don't get me wrong...my son has his loads of treats - maybe a little more healthy, but it's not associated with success or sadness)
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